TAIPEI — After another disappointing campaign, Smart-Gilas mentor Rajko Toroman said that he’s not only eyeing Kelly Williams but is also hoping to add at least two more PBA players to reinforce the national team’s roster for the Guangzhou Asian Games this November.
According to Toroman, the setbacks to World Championship-bound Iran and Lebanon, and to Japan clearly showed the need to upgrade the team’s frontline in order to be competitive in the Asian Games in November in Guangzhou, China.
“I think that we need to pick up little more pieces to make better result,” Toroman said, as Smart-Gilas finished fourth with a 3-3 win-loss card in the 32nd William R. Jones Cup.
“It’s not so good result, but it’s not so bad. I think that we’re close to everybody. Against Iran and Lebanon, I’m very satisfied. It showed that they’re not so far from us. But Japan, we didn’t play good in that game,” Toroman added.
Just like in the past, the mentor from Serbia, who guided Iran to the FIBA-Asia Championship in 2007 that earned a seat in the previous Beijing Olympics, reiterated the need to improve the power forward position.
Toroman mentioned anew the 6-foot-7 Williams.
However, in case the application for naturalization of American import Marcus Douthit, a 6-foot-10 center, would not be complete in time for the Asian Games, the 55-year-old Toroman said he is thinking of having another PBA player.
“Sonny Thoss or Asi Taulava, two big guys with the size who can help us. But we’ll see first what will happen to Douthit,” Toroman said.
Another PBA player who is in the radar of Toroman is wily point guard Ryan Reyes, who he said can bring consistency, balance and veteran leadership in the backcourt with national team mainstays Mark Barroca and JV Casio.
Also an option at the guard spot, according to Smart-Gilas insiders, is Rain or Shine sophomore playmaker Solomon Mercado.
But to get the PBA players, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) has to make a request and the PBA board will have to decide on it. It is expected to be trouble-free as the pro league is a stakeholder in the SBP and the association is headed by Talk N Text owner Manny V. Pangilinan.
The goal in the Asian Games, Toroman said, is to reach the semifinals “and hopefully win a medal” although the main target of Smart-Gilas in the FIBA-Asia Championship next year in Beirut, Lebanon, the qualifying event for the 2012 London Olympics.
Smart-Gilas won against lesser teams in the Jones Cup following victories against Chinese Taipei’s University All-Star (83-52), the Australian Crocs (90-64) and Chinese Taipei national team in overtime (96-93), but lost to Iran (68-81), Japan (74-84) and Lebanon (73-62).
Waylon Galvez, Manila Bulletin